This Savage Song by V.E.Schwab: Review

After reading Schwab’s Vicious I couldn’t wait to get my hands on another one of her books. I wasn’t disappointed by This Savage Song – it’s a turbulent dystopian choc full of monsters and menace. (I’m already reading the sequel)

Title: This Savage Song

Author: V.E.Schwab

Publication date: 7 Jun. 2016

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-fi Dystopian with monsters

Pages: 469

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within

August and Kate are from opposite sides of a feuding city; a city full of monsters. Destined to oppose one another, this is a tale of two young people who defy expectations in the battle for justice. Schwab’s writing is threaded on every level with moral commentary and I absolutely adore the way she plays with morality on both social and personal levels. To go so far as to meld a species of monster to represent this was bold but was also beautifully handled. She demonstrates the blurred lines of right and wrong.

Both MCs are compelling to read about and are unique down to the smallest habits and ticks. Simply put, I was 100% convinced by them. I really thought we were going in a Romeo and Juliet, Capulet and Montague direction with them when I first read about the city split in half and run by different families. Thankfully there was none of that kind of ‘insta love’ and their relationship (August and Kate’s) is one of mutual respect that helps to demonstrate the theme of doubles throughout the narrative. Good and bad, light and dark, creation and destruction, lies and truth – it flits between it all making for a very turbulent and interesting read. If it lacks anything it’s a sense of emotional struggle for the reader. The central characters are so emotionally strong throughout their ordeal that a sense of distress for the reader is kind of lost. 

Kate in particular was a wonderfully layered, bad-ass female lead with a fierce outlook and a human conscience. She wasn’t a ninja crime fighting machine, she was a realistic person and I have a lot of respect for characters that balance ferocity with vulnerability so well. August’s vulnerability and internal conflicts mirror Kate’s and make their relationship plausible and supportive – they work really well with one another. I’m not sure if it’s a post apocalyptic sci-fi kinda setting or a whole new world build but I get the sense that it’s an alternative earth or something. I love the names of the cities: Verity just sounds completely right in the context (don’t ask me why because I don’t know!)

The story is relatively straight forward and hinges on particular moments of cause and effect that work well – for me the pace was pleasant for my reading speed but there weren’t many moments of real adrenaline pumping speed.The ending wasn’t like a lot of YA I’ve read recently in the sense that it didn’t leave me dangling of a precarious plot precipice. Cliff-hangers have seemed cheaper and cheaper of late with authors withholding crucial plot details to entice readers into picking up sequels. I was pleased that this wasn’t written in such a way, ends were tied whilst it maintained a healthy curiosity about what might come next and I have already made a start on Our Dark Duet, let’s hope it’s just as compelling!

Overall I found this to be a really enjoyable story and I’d recommend it to post-apocalyptic fiction fans and lovers of fantasy YA.


4.5 out of 5

FYI: The Kindle Edition is just £2.80

If you liked This Savage Song try This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada



  1. Nomadic Worlds | 6th Feb 18

    Great review. Still on my TBR. I really need to get around to reading this book.

    • tackfiction | 18th Feb 18

      Thank you! I’m still working on the sequel but I’m definitely a fan! Hope you get to it soon!

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